by Teresa Stepzinski
A husband and wife research team at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville are on the forefront of an aeromedicine project with potential benefits for future astronauts as well as patients home on earth. When the Suborbital Autonomous Rocket with Guidance rocket by Exos Aerospace Systems & Technologies Inc. launches — the plan is Saturday — its payload will include a small hands-free camera equipped with specialized software capable of monitoring an astronaut’s vital signs continuously, contact-free while several feet away… Mayo researchers David and Michelle Freeman, who also are physicians, are studying the camera device for future use in space and on the ground. “The technology is called photoplethysmography. Essentially it’s computer software that uses a high resolution camera to detect the very subtle pulsations of blood through the skin. So it uses that capability to calculate your pulse and oxygenation,” she said.
Additional coverage: MedTech Dive
Context: Astronauts intermittently monitor their vital signs in space for experiments, partly because continuous monitoring requires multiple contact points on the body and the use of cumbersome batteries. Now, researchers at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus are studying a device to be launched into space that is designed to use a small, inexpensive camera fitted with specialized software. This software has the potential to monitor an astronaut’s vital signs continuously and contact-free from feet away, saving precious cargo space and leaving astronauts unencumbered.
For the purposes of this study, the camera will not be pointed at a human due to the unmanned flight. Rather, the study will assess the movements of a second hand of a watch that will float within the canister.
“This can simulate how well the camera can pick up minute movements of the second hand while on a watch face floating in zero gravity,” says Michelle Freeman, M.D., a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus. “In humans, the device tracks subtle pulsations in the blood vessels of the skin, telling us heartbeat and respiration rate. The second hand of the watch will be our pulse for this trip.”
You can read more about the space trip and study on Mayo Clinic New Network.
Contact: Kevin Punsky